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Castel loses trademark infringement case in China

French wine merchant Castel has lost its lengthy legal battle over the company's trademark in China.

The case was a trademark infringement lawsuit brought against Castel by the Chinese wine distributor Panati Wine (Shanghai) Co., Ltd regarding the Chinese trademark Kasite (卡斯特), the phonetic rendition of Castel in Chinese.

According to Chinese media, the Zhejiang Provincial Higher People’s Court ruled Castel must stop using the Chinese trademark Kasite on its wines.

Castel also has to pay a fine of CNY33.73 million (over £3.6 million) to Panati Wine and its Spanish-Chinese owner LI Daozhi, and well as issuing a public apology through the China Industry & Commerce News publication.

The basis of the case dates back to the late 1990s, when Wenzhou-born entrepreneur LI Daozhi started the wine distribution company Panati Wine to introduce Spanish wines to the Chinese wine market, and applied for the registration of trademark Kasite in 1998. The application was granted in 2000.

In 2008, LI established a secondary company Cavesmaitre Wine Co., Ltd with its Chinese name as Kasite. Unlike the Panati Wine, the new company focused on importing French wine to China under the brand name Kasite.

Castel began bottling wine in China in 1999, and the Chinese translation of its name was known as Kasite by Chinese wine consumers. Castel successfully submitted a request to cancel the trademark in 2005 for the reason that it had not been used for three years, but later LI appealed and won it back.

The trademark infringement lawsuit was filed by LI in 2009, claiming a compensation of CNY40 million from Castel for its unlawful use of the trademark Kasite. Wenzhou Intermediate People’s Court adjudicated Cavesmaitre to win the case with a compensation of CNY33.73 million on 10 April 2012.

After the original verdict, both plaintiff and defendant submitted appeals, and the case was brought to Zhejiang Provincial Higher Court, which upheld the previous verdict, and ordering an extra published apology from Castel.

The Castel Group announced its new registered Chinese trademark Kasidaile (卡思黛乐) in March 2013.

Written by Nina Fan Feng

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